Posted: Thursday, December 12th 2013 at 11:45am
Eggs & Issues talks economy, education, responsibility
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – A standing-room-only crowd packed the main ballroom at the Gainesville Civic Center Thursday morning for the annual “Eggs & Issues” breakfast sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.
Seated on stage, ready to address the issues, were the members of the Gainesville-Hall County legislative delegation: State Senators Butch Miller and John Wilkinson, as well as State Representatives Carl Rogers, Lee Hawkins, Emory Dunahoo, Jr. and Timothy Barr.
"The state is in very good condition. It’s exciting to see revenues begin to come back, it’s good to see growth occurring," featured speaker Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagel told the estimated 400-plus business, education, political and community leaders.
Those assembled were eager to hear about plans under consideration by the upcoming state legislative session that begins next month now that the economy is poised to rebound. Most of those in attendance had been effected in one way or another by budget cutbacks over the past several years.
"During the downturn it gave us a wonderful opportunity to refocus ourselves and focus on things that were of greatest importance…and make significant changes as it relates to our portfolio as a state," Cagle said.
Cagle underscored the need to remember the things the state learned during the tough times. "The new economy that we are involved in right now is evolving and changing so rapidly, and it’s very important that we make sure that the skills-gap that exists in terms of education…that we continue to make enhancements."
"Seventy percent of the jobs tomorrow are going to need some kind of technical training. We recognize that a ‘one-size-fits- all’ model in education is not going to work. We have to be diversified in education."
"Education drives the economy, not the reverse. That’s why with the additional revenue that we’re going to see this year we need to make sure that we restore those furlough days, making sure the kids are back in school for a full year and they have every opportunity imaginable to them," Cagle added.
Cagle also spoke of Governor Nathan Deal’s commitment to expanding the Port of Savannah. "When you look at the great economic things that are happening, none of that would be real if it wasn’t for the Port of Savannah. Almost 10-percent of all of the goods coming into the U.S marketplace come through that port."
Following Cagle’s remarks the legislative delegation took turns responding to questions provided by the audience. Topics besides those mentioned by Cagle were: health care, water, transportation, and tax reform among others.
Representative Emory Dunahoo concurred with Cagle’s appraisal of the state’s economic condition, "We’ve increased our 'Rainy Day Fund' from $27 million to $682 million. We have a balanced budget; our federal government can’t say that. We are one of nine states to have a triple-A bond rating."
Senator Butch Miller echoed Cagle and Dunahoo, but added that he and his colleagues needed to practice fiscal responsibility themselves as they began the upcoming session, beginning with their own participation in that session.
Dunahoo shared Miller’s goal. "We trying to be down and back as quick as we can."
Miller, who serves as the Majority Caucus Chairman, says he expects the session to finish their business by March.
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